Brew Day! Atlantarctica Belgian Tripel White IPA

That’s right, a Belgian Tripel White IPA… don’t be scared.  We had a gorgeous Saturday here and a great brew day.  As usual Brian and I were in the brewhouse but we had the help of another friend that shared some awesome info with us.  It’s always great to have another brewer join you and share their knowledge.  I like comparing processes and seeing the different paths others take to get to the end result, any time I’ve had another brewer help out I always find a tweak or two to add to or improve our process.   BTW… this brew is live on Fermo-O-Vision if you’d like to take a look.

Atlantarctica Info Sheet

Atlantarctica Info Sheet

If you saw my last post on Synesthesia Saison you know that brew was my personal side project, this one is 100% Brian’s.  I helped him in the “research” phase of the project where we tried several witbiers and white IPA’s to note characteristics we liked and didn’t like.  Best of Show went to Houblon Chouffe and the best American White IPA was Sweetwater Whiplash, we promise there was no loca favoritism here, it’s a very solid white IPA.  The Atlantarctica recipe is loosely based on those two beers, or rather inspired by them.  Brian chose a basic pilsner malt as the base, a heavy dose of wheat, a bit of flaked oats and a pound of soft Belgian white candi sugar.  The hop bill includes Cascade, El Dorado, Centennial Mosaic and Amarillo – with 4 1/2 oz in the boil and another 3 oz that will be used to dry hop.

The brew day overall ran very well.  We had to re-run our first sparge as the runoff was way too fast and emptied the MLT in about 1 minute, but other than that we were pretty spot on.  Mash temps were solid and we hit 1.077 OG with a target of 1.078 – can’t argue with that.  We’re consistently hitting 65% efficiency on our brews now and it’s time to dial that up, we just picked up a Monster Mill MM-2 so hopefully getting control of our crush will help with that.

I hope that fish doesn't eat all our grains.

I hope that fish doesn’t eat all our grains.

One big improvement we made on this brew was with our yeast starter.  I’ve been making starters for a while now however just found out that my method may not have been producing enough cells for many of our beers.   Especially if the original yeast is getting close to it’s “best by” date.  I’ve used the online calculators to figure cell counts but it looks like I didn’t know how to read that info properly.  I did a step-up starter on this one after checking out this very helpful post at Billy Brews.  Fermentation started up quickly and aggressively, hopefully all those extra cells will be beneficial.  According to Brian, this one could take 3 weeks to finish up completely, we’ll have to leave this one alone for a weekend while we go to Hunahpu Day.  Did I mention we’re going to Hunahpu Day???

Pitching Yeasties

Pitching Yeasties

And now we wait

And now we wait

Corking and caging our first Belgian brew

We weren’t sure we’d pull through at times but both Brian and I managed to survive the 2 massive blizzards that hit Atlanta in as many weeks.  Brian sat in is fancy-pants condo and, literally and figuratively, looked down on the frozen people of Atlanta.  I just stayed in the house and occasionally poked my head out to see if the roads had thawed.  In the middle of the storm I made tuna salad without realizing I was out of relish, I didn’t even have any pickles I could chop up.  It was terrible.  Fortunately I had plenty of milk and bread and eggs, because after watching the news apparently these are the items every house needs to survive the apocalypse.  My local grocery store was also sold out of toilet paper, I don’t even want to know what the hell my neighbors were doing during the storms.  Fortunately by Saturday we’d thawed out and were able to get back to work in the brewhouse.  This weekend we bottled our Synesthesia Saison and did “research” on White IPA’s and Witbiers for a future brewday.

Synesthesia Saison

Synesthesia Saison

Brian and I typically work together on our brews.  We bounce ideas off each other, talk about malt and hop bills, beer body, etc.  However this saison was my pet project.  I mentioned in another post that I really put a lot into the recipe and process for this beer.  Brian stepped aside on the planning of this one then jumped in on brew day to make it happen.  I wanted this to be as Belgian as possible, including Belgian beer bottles with corks and cages, so we got a Portuguese floor corker, some Belgian bottles (holy crap these things can be expensive), corks, and cages and we were ready to make magic.  Corking and caging was much easier than I thought it would be based on the videos and articles I found online about the process.  Perhaps in a future post I’ll go more in depth with the process I used… once I make sure I don’t end up with a bunch of corks and cages flying around the house.  In the pic below the base of my corker may look odd, I used a Pyrex dish inverted on the base as a spacer to help the shorter 375ml bottles fit the corker, worked like a charm.

Floor corking the night away.

Floor corking the night away.

I was pretty happy with the way the bottling and labels on this brew turned out.  I’ve got high hopes for this beer, I guess I’ll see in a couple weeks if it comes through for me.  I hope it does as I’ve blindly entered it into an upcoming homebrew competition.  It’s gonna be a winner, I can feel it.

Next up we’ll be using all that knowledge we gained from our research on white IPA’s and witbiers to brew something along those lines.  This one is Brian’s child though, so I’ll stay out of the way until brew day.  I’m a bit scared as Brian is absolutely nuts when it comes to designing beer recipes, so there’s no telling what we’ll end up with.   One of his ideas yesterday was Raison de Raisin Saison.  I mocked him for the idea, as I do with all of his ideas whether or not they are good, but now I want to brew a raisin saison.  Looks like it’s time to get back on the research.

Mostly Harmless Ferm-o-Vision

We are broadcasting LIVE!!!

I finally figured out how to get our webcam viewable outside of the local network.  Right now it’s kind of boring as the most active fermentation has subsided for this batch, we’ll update when we brew again if anyone wants to come check out the madness.  For now I’m going to have it set where anyone can control the camera, since I imagine there won’t be a mad rush of users trying to control it all at one.  Maybe one day we’ll have that problem!

To access the camera just go here –> tMHBC LIVE CAM
Username: VIP
Password: 12345

Heck, we might even get all wild and broadcast our brew days live… cause we’re crazy like that.

Fermentation Camera Snapshot

Fermentation Camera Snapshot

How to setup your own Fermentation Cam:

These instructions assume you have a static IP address.  If you have a dynamic IP address you’ll need to use a DDNS service such as noip.com or dyn.com before continuing.

  1. Buy a wireless IP camera (I bought a Tenvis JPT3815W, Foscam FI8918W is another that came recommended.)
  2. Setup the camera to work on your network.  You’ll need to be able to connect (with a cable) both the computer you use to set this up and the camera to the wireless router for this step
  3. The Tenvis camera comes with a pretty easy to use wizard to setup the camera.  Just follow the prompts.  If you’re more tech savvy you can use the Advanced mode to set everything manually.
  4. Make note of the IP assigned to the camera as well as the port it’s accessing.  I believe mine defaulted to port 82.  Also make a note of the external URL it gives you for access.  For the Tenvis came it uses a portion of the serial number plus tenvis.info for access.  For example, my camera’s URL is http://dcyz.tenvis.info
  5. Test the camera in wireless mode to make sure it all works.
  6. To access the camera from an external network (any connection not connected to your wireless router) you will need to set Port Forwarding on your router to allow access to the camera’s IP.  Each router will have a slightly different process.  You can Google your router make and model and “setup port forwarding” and it should tell you what you need to know.  NOTE: I have Comcast business for my internet access and instead of a traditional modem it uses a “business gateway” that is a modem/router combination.  If you have a similar configuration you will need to set port forwarding on the gateway to allow access to the router’s IP address.  Note that this is not the same as the address you use to access the wireless router on your network, it is probably formatted as a 10.1.x.x address.
  7. Once all port forwarding is set test it out on a connection outside of your network.  I used my iPhone with WiFi turned off.  If you’re port forwarding is set correctly you should be good.

Basic Troubleshooting

  • The most likely issue you might run into here is with port forwarding.  If you can see the camera inside your network but not externally then it’s a port forwarding issue.  You can test if your port is open at http://www.canyouseeme.org.  It should auto-populate with your IP address then you simply enter the port number you want to check.
  • As stated above, you’ll need a static IP address to make this happen.  If you have a dynamic IP then you’ll need to set something up with a DDNS service such as noip.com or dyn.com.  I know that noip.com has a free option to get you started and paid options to give you more control.  Both sites have getting started guides to help you through the process.

 

Brewing Belgians – Saison brew day

I really like saisons.  I say I’m passionate about them but others have used the word obsessed… whatever.

Several months ago I decided I wanted to brew a saison but rather than jumping into it and brewing away all willy nilly, I researched saisons like crazy.  I drank as many as I could find and made a spreadsheet with notes on color, carbonation, aroma, flavors.  Then I took that sheet and I wrote to the brewers of my favorites and told them what I liked about their beers and asked them for tips on brewing mine.  As a side note, there are certain breweries that are very friendly and helpful to homebrewers, New Holland Monkey King is one of my favorite saisons and they not only replied to my email but we chatted a bit (via email) to help me fine tune my process.  I talked to local commercial brewers and asked for their advice to achieve what I wanted in my beer and I emailed White Labs to ask for tips on the way to best get what I wanted out of the yeast I chose to use (WLP566) and they were glad to share some advice with me.  See?  Passionate.

I forgot to get pictures of the process prior to fermentation so instead here is a picture of a Tactical Goat.

I forgot to get pictures of the process prior to fermentation so instead here is a picture of a Tactical Goat.

After a ton of research I finally found what I wanted to brew and this weekend we brewed it up.  I’ve noticed that my favorite saisons seem to be more fruit forward with phenolics in the background, rather than the other way around.  It turns out I’m also a fan of wheated saisons, many of my favorites have a touch of wheat in them.  My final recipe included Pilsen malt, some white wheat and Belgian candi syrup with Hallertau Hersbrucker, Saaz and my personal favorite hops, Mosaic.  We’ve dubbed this one Synesthesia Saison and we were going to use the tagline Taste the Rainbow, but I think that’s being used already.

We mashed the grains at 148° for 75 minutes then did a double batch sparge at 168°, this one had a 2 hour boil to carmelize the sugars a touch for both color and flavor.  Hops were added at first wort, 60 minutes and flameout, the Belgian candi syrup was also added at flameout.  We put 5 1/2 gallons in the carboy and pitched our yeast starter then capped it up and into the fermentation chamber with it.  Within 12 hours this thing was spinning like crazy.  A nice, fast, aggressive fermentation.  I’m really excited to see how this one turns out.

On a geekier note, after seeing a post on a homebrew forum where someone else did this I added a wireless IP video camera (I got a Tenvis JPT3815W) to the fermentation chamber so I can watch it from the comfort of my easy chair.  It’s pretty awesome.  Right now I can only view it from my network, since my router is being a pain about letting me have access to my ports, but I plan to get this online where anyone can see it.

Fermentation Creeper Cam

Fermentation Creeper Cam

In case you’re a saison fan as well, here are my favorites.

Tim D’s Top 5 Saisons
1) New Holland Monkey King
2) Stillwater Cellar Door
3) Goose Island Sofie (2012)
4) Stillwater Stateside Saison
5) Dupont Saison Cuvee Dry Hopping.